Wildcats respond after slow start, beat Central
Fruita Monument High School boys basketball coach Billy Dreher was not happy at halftime Friday night. The Wildcats had just played a lackluster first half and trailed Central 24-13.
He thought his players needed an incentive to play better and play harder in the second half.
“I got on them, I chewed them out, and I challenged them,” Dreher said. “I told them that we’re going to go at 6 a.m. for an hour-and-a-half, nothing but running.”
The challenge and the incentive worked with Fruita Monument (7-10, 3-1 SWL) ripping off a 43-point second half to beat Central 56-44 in Southwestern League action.
Tyrell Peterson came out super-aggressive in the third quarter, using his speed and quickness to wreak a little havoc with the Wildcats’ full-court press.
The junior forced a number of steals as the Wildcats turned up the defensive intensity, making it tough on Central to find open shots. Peterson’s putback basket and his steal that led to a pair of free throws cut the lead to 29-25. When Davis Deussen hit a 3-pointer in front of the fired-up Fruita Monument student section, the game was tied at 33-33 with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats finally grabbed the lead at 34-33, then four points by Dylan Row pushed the lead to 38-35.
With Trey Fair battling foul trouble, Central (5-12, 0-4 SWL) didn’t have many answers to Fruita Monument’s second-half rally. Fair, who spent most of the third quarter on the bench, finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, but he was scoreless in the second half.
The Wildcats’ Matt Story put the exclamation point on the victory with a huge play with 50 seconds left in the game. He jumped out to contest a 3-point shot by Fair and rejected the shot. Story then scooped up the loose ball and took it to the hoop for a three-point play and a 53-43 lead.
Peterson said Dreher made it clear they better play harder in the second half.
“Coach was upset,” he said with a smile. “He said if we didn’t come out and play harder, we were going to run our butts off.”
Peterson, who scored all nine of his points in the second half, was a difference maker on both ends of the court.
“Tyrell was just huge with his hustle and effort,” Dreher said.
“When I went in, the team sparked up. I never stop running, and I’m full speed all the time,” Peterson said.
Fruita Monument immediately grabbed the momentum to start the third quarter when Story made a strong move to the hoop for a bucket, followed by two free throws by Devin Winstanley. Row, who led the Wildcats with 13 points, nailed a 3-pointer, and later Arturo Chavez added another 3-pointer to cut the Warriors’ lead to 29-28.
Row said it was just a matter of making shots.
“We were missing a lot of easy shots,” he said about the first half. “We just came out and stayed aggressive, and finished. We wanted to get the ball into the hoop and take care of the ball.”
That’s what they did. But they were totally outplayed in the first half.
Freshman point guard Julio Galindo had four points in the first quarter, and when he hit a jumper in the second quarter, the Warriors had a 14-5 lead.
Trey Garcia followed with another jumper from the same spot on the right wing to push the lead to 16-5. The half was capped on a bucket by Fair off a nice pass from Garcia, and the lead was 24-13.